Monday, September 26, 2011

The Courtship of Meta-Chloe, part-troi

The last few weeks had been a whirlwind for Cameron. He ran through as many interviews as he could for the story, sifting and sorting. Whenever he could, he did the interviews on-line or by phone, spending the rest of his free time studying the specially marked Bible Rayford had given him, or meeting with Rayford's pastor, Bruce. And whenever he could, he attended Sunday services and bible study. It wasn't entirely religious devotion... there was one other regular attendee he looked forward to seeing each time.

When the GW article finally went to press, Cameron was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief. He had to re-write large parts of it just hours ahead of the deadline, and he wrestled long and hard with that decision. The pastor had actually been fairly helpful, though he did tend to eye Chloe at bible study ever since.

That relaxed feeling vanished the very next Wednesday. Chloe was conspicuously absent from the prayer study, and when asked, Rayford just looked sheepish and embarrassed. (then again, Rayford looked sheepish a lot, in Cameron's opinion) Buck spent half the meeting writing a note for Rayford to give his daughter, but even simple writing gets tricky if you know that the father of the girl you're sweet on will be reading the note, and reading it first.

Cameron was too nervous to attend the Sunday service, plus with his boss jumping ship to work for Carpathia, things were starting to slip around the office. But when he showed up for the mid-week prayer group, and Chloe still wasn't there, he started getting really confused. Rayford somehow picked up on that, and told Cameron to ride back to his house.

Rayford walked Cameron up to the door, then gently laid a hand on his shoulder.

"She's out back, on the porch. She's really mad at you."

"She wants to talk to me?"

"She doesn't know I brought you here, but she's mad, and you don't know what it was that you did to make her mad, and she's not the type to go calling, so you go back there and figure all this out with her. Now, go!"

Read the rest

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Just When Things Are Going Right Part II by Rev Apoc

Vicki and Shelley got off the bus and began making their way to Jason Devlin’s house. Not wanting to keep gawking at the well-lit nice houses and fancy grass lawns in the evening twilight, Vicki said, “How do you even know this guy anyway? They usually don’t like us trailer kids showing up, you know.”

Shelley waved her hand. “Oh, friend of a friend kinda thing. I know a girl who has a kind of off-and-on thing with him. She’s the one who told me about this party, actually.”

“We had to spend half an hour on that stupid bus stopping at like every intersection along the way here, Shel. I’m gonna be so choked if they don’t let us in to at least get a beer,” groused Vicki.

They were coming up to the large house which took up the entire end of a cul-de-sac. The windows blazed with light and the girls could see several shadows in them, showing that tha party was starting to get going. Shelley brushed Vicki’s hair back and said, “Don’t worry about it. With that red hair and that lipstick you’re a bombshell. Just flash your boobs or something.”

Vicki, stunned, burst out laughing. Shelley, after a moment, joined in and the two girls had to hold each other up as they got themselves under control.

Vicki studied Shelley’s outfit closely. Her friend was wearing the only high heels she owned, and she was dressed in a skin-tight one-piece black dress. Shelley had put on some make-up and brilliant red lipstick.

Shelley seemed to notice and said, “Is something wrong?”

Vicki stopped, looked at the house pensively and rubbed her hands on her shirt. “No. Just… how do I look? Okay?”

“You look great, honestly. I already told you that back at the trailer park. Just be careful, though; that white T-shirt looks like it might pop if you try buttoning it up all the way. And that skirt! I’d like to borrow it from you sometime. It shows off your legs.”

Vicki fleetingly wondered if that compliment was Shelley trying to tell Vicki something. Feeling a bit more fortified, she grinned and said, “Babe, this shirt? That’s the general idea. C’mon.”

She tugged at her friend’s arm and walked up to the outsized front door.

Luckily, nobody threw them out, and after pressing their way through the small groups of people that had formed in the hallways, Shelley and Vicki were able to grab two cups of beer from the guys manning a long table with a couple of kegs sitting on it.

“Woohoo!” yelled Vicki as she knocked her cup against Shelley’s. She took a healthy gulp, feeling the liquor going down her throat. Shelley, gasping from the cold beer herself, nodded and said, “Pretty good stuff this time.”

Vicki’s purse shifted, and she smacked her forehead. “Shit! What do we do with our purses?”

“Goddamnit,” swore Shelley as she looked around. Vicki followed her gaze as it locked onto a brown-haired guy standing next to a table with a lamp on it in the large living room. He was talking with a cute black-haired guy who she thought she remembered from the basketball team, but his name escaped her.

Shelley tugged her along, and when she was within talking distance, she said, “Jason! Remember me? Shelley? Jasmine’s friend?”

He blinked and nodded slowly. “Yeah. Um, whaddya need?”

“I’ve gotta put my purse somewhere safe, and so does my friend Vicki.”

Vicki locked eyes with the black-haired guy, and she noticed he had dark brown eyes, like her. Right now, though, he seemed to be regarding her a bit distantly.
. Damn it, just because I didn’t grow up in a fancy house like this, thought Vicki furiously.

She hid it all behind a fake smile and an insincere, “Hi.”

The black-haired guy nodded brusquely and Jason took the strain off the meeting by suddenly recalling a small closet in the back of the house. He led Vicki and Shelley away from the family room and through an extremely nice-looking dining room (which, luckily, had been cleared of anything breakable, Vicki noticed) and into a corridor. There, Jason stopped them and said, “If you keep going down this hallway, you’ll end up in the garage. Here, just put your purses in this closet here.”

He opened a closet which had a few coats in it, and had nothing on the floor. The two girls put their purses on the floor and then went back to rejoin the groups of people and see if they knew anyone from school they could hang out with.


Jason rejoined Judd and said, “Hey. You okay?”

“Why trailer chicks, Jase?” He gestured with his beer at the girls who’d just left. They were kind of cute, but dating one? Kiss of death at school.

Jason rolled his eyes. “Come on. Look, I’ve sort of known Shelley off and on and she’s all right. I mean,Jasminesays she’s a nice girl, and Jas isn’t trailer trash. You’d think she’d know if anyone from the trailer park was just a total skank, man.”

Judd waggled his eyebrows. “I’m sure between the sheets she’s nice, too.”

“Hey, shut up,” replied Jason, chuckling. “Look, I’m gonna put on some music and go find Jas. You find a girl to chat up or something, people see us hanging around all night they might start wonderin’ what’s up.”

Judd found a cluster of his basketball teammates; just as he did so, the music began loudly playing and they all had to bellow at each other to be understood. Judd began thinking the only worthwhile thing was the beer, which never seemed to stop flowing.

An impromptu dance floor had been created in the center of the living room, and Judd saw that Jason and Jasmine were dancing. He felt a bit jealous that he didn’t have a girlfriend with him at the moment, though he was pretty sure he’d seen a couple of girls at the party checking him out, one of them a blond cheerleader he spotted on the other side of the room.

Judd, concentrating on moving between the people to chat up the cheerleader, didn’t quite see where he was going and nearly bumped into the redheaded trailer girl, who had to steady herself by putting her hand on his chest for a moment. He flushed in embarrassment and bellowed, “Sorry!”

She nodded, gripped her fresh beer more carefully, and yelled back, “It’s fine!”

As she trailed her way through the crowd, Judd couldn’t help but follow her with his eyes. That red hair really made her stand out. And she knew how to show off what she had, that was for sure.

Shaking his head, he muttered, “Kiss of death, kiss of death…”


Shelley handed her back the cup of beer she’d just downed half the contents of, and Vicki took a sip, noticing with some concern that it was already getting harder to stand up straight.

Vicki had to admit the black-haired guy, whose name she learned was Judd Thompson, was pretty hot up close. He had a nice set of muscles under that shirt of his, that was for sure. But damn it, he’d never end up with her except for a quickie if he was super drunk and super horny. Shelley had told her of the Football Bastard, Geoff, who’d just looked right through her the day after they’d slept together.

So why did Vicki keep thinking there might be some hidden depths to that Judd guy?

She decided to quit wasting her time, and said, “C’mon, Shel, let’s dance! Who cares what the rest of these idiots think.”

Her friend’s grin prompted her to grin, too, as they made their way to the dance floor and began dancing to the pounding beat. Vicki loved seeing the way Shelley put her moves together, and she knew she could pull off moves just as good. Smirking as more and more boys started looking at her, she kept up the pace as the music kept playing.


The blond cheerleader’s name was Mona. Judd said, “So what’s that you’re wearing?” He wondered what the white blousy skirt thing was.

She beamed. “This thing? A Jersey dress. You like it?” She winked.

“Yeah, I like it. So you’re the team captain, or what?” Judd fleetingly noticed the red-headed girl dancing with her friend, and several of his basketball teammates looking on with envy. He reluctantly turned his attention back to Mona.

Mona drank a bit of beer and said, “Nah, I’m co-captain. So me and Liz, we have to argue over what moves and dances we’ve got to put on and then choreograph it all for the rest of the team.”

Judd thought she looked good. She had cute hazel eyes and was fairly tanned, which spoke of many hours outside the gym, practicing cheerleading routines.

He looked around and spotted the easy chair someone had just vacated. “Hey, wanna sit down?”

Mona grasped Judd’s arm and said, “Okay, but I’m not sitting in your lap – yet.”

Judd sat in the chair while Mona sat on the arm. He thought it wasn’t too uncomfortable to look up at her, but wished she hadn’t put her butt so close to his arm. He fiddled with his beer cup in his lap as Mona took a large drink. She then put her empty cup on the nearby table, which already had several other plastic cups on it surrounding the lamp.

Mona’s hand on his shoulder surprised him. “So, Judd, what about you? Basketball, right?”

He nodded. “Yeah. I’m a power forward.”

“Cool. When’s the next game?”

Judd, intrigued, said, “I thought football cheerleaders didn’t go to basketball games.”

Mona giggled. “Oh, come on, Judd. Not like there’s a law against it, is there? Now tell me, when’s the next game? I’ll cheer for you specially.”

“Couple of weeks. We’re playing against the senior varsity team.”

“Isn’t that kind of out of your league? You guys’re JV, right?”

Judd nodded. “It’s kind of a warmup, but whoever wins kinda has bragging rights for a while, especially if it’s us ‘cause eighteen-year-olds are taller and stronger, usually.”


Judd hesitated, then put his arm around Mona’s waist. He said, “C’mon, have a seat now?”

She didn’t shake his hand off, which Judd thought was a good thing. Mona seemed to think for a few moments, then said, “Okay. But if you try anything—”

“I won’t, I promise,” replied Judd. “I just, um, think you’re cute.”

Mona carefully sat in Judd’s lap, shifting so she could see him. Luckily, the easy chair was wide enough to let her sit at an angle, and she put her arm around his shoulders.

She said into his ear, “I think you’re cute, too.”

Judd relaxed and tried not to focus too much on his hand now resting between Mona’s shoulder blades. She smelled nice, too.

A slow dance number came on, and Judd looked up, seeing the red-haired girl and her friend walk off the dance floor. They looked around furtively, and then left in the direction of the stairs. Judd knew there were several rooms on the second floor. He wondered if they were going to find some guys.

His attention came back to Mona as she said, “You go to church or anything like that?”

The music was just quiet enough that Judd and Mona could talk in low voices and be heard.

Judd laughed. “You’re asking that at this party?”

She shrugged. “Why not? The Bible tells us our ancestors drank beer and danced and still praised the Lord.”

“Not to hear my parents tell it, that’s for sure,” groaned Judd.

Mona gestured at the other people. “To be fair, this normally wouldn’t be the time or place. But…”

Her face grew pensive. “I’ve just got a feeling something’s going to happen tonight, and I thought I should at least try to reach out.”

Judd laughed and said a bit harshly, “Reaching out? So it’s flirt to convert, huh?”

Mona, distressed, shook her head and replied, “Heavens, no! Look, I… oh, this is coming out all wrong. I’m sorry. Please, forget about it.”

She looked so sincerely apologetic and flustered that Judd had a hard time staying upset.

“It’s okay. I just get it from my parents, too, so I probably was ruder than I should’ve been,” Judd conceded.

Mona seemed relieved. She said, “Now, believe it or not, but Christians do know how to have fun; lemme show you.”

She leaned over and kissed Judd, who gladly opened his mouth to lock lips with Mona. His free hand wandered to her leg, and she didn’t swat it away.


Vicki wasn’t sure how long they’d been dancing when they finished, but she’d been wanting a drink for a while. She grabbed another beer – this time, a cold bottle – and took a healthy slug from it as she followed Shelley upstairs. She had seemed a little nervous when trying to get away from the dance, and this had made Vicki look around too, but she hadn’t seen anything wrong; she was pretty sure Shelley didn’t have any creepy stalker exes.

They found the stairs leading to the second floor of the large house, passing by other people coming downstairs who had satisfied looks on their faces. It didn’t take a genius, Vicki thought, to realize what was happening on the upstairs floor as she and Shelley carefully made their way up the steps, trying not to overbalance due to the alcohol running through their veins.

Passing by the first room in the long hallway certainly proved that making out (and probably more) was a popular sport as there were couples sprawled over the couches and even one couple on the floor.

Shelley seemed to be hunting for an empty room; Vicki rolled her eyes and said, “Shel? There areno empty rooms. There’ve been people on the beds in the last two rooms, and I bet the next room’ll have people, too.”

Vicki looked on, astonished, as Shelley grabbed the beer out of her hand and drank off nearly a quarter of the bottle. She grabbed Shelley’s shoulder and steadied her friend as she said, “What? What’s wrong?”

Her friend licked her lips and slurred, “Need to find a room, okay?”

They lucked out as they finally spotted a small walk-in closet just off a bedroom that, in the light briefly thrown into the room, showed two human-sized lumps on the bed. Inside the closet, Vicki reached up, felt the thin metal beads jangling against her hand and pulled, turning the light on inside the closet as Shelley closed the door and took another sip of beer before handing the bottle to Vicki, who carefully set it in a corner of the closet where she wouldn’t knock it over.

It was just large enough for two people to walk into, but they would have to leave single-file. The wall opposite the door was behind Vicki, as she’d walked in first.

Shelley’s hands shook. She nervously said slowly and carefully, “Would you be mad if… uh, I told you something?”

Vicki knew, from being fairly drunk herself, that when you talked like that, you were concentrating entirely just on thinking about the one thing you were discussing. This must be super-important, thought Vicki as she wondered what her friend had needed all that beer for in order to loosen her tongue.

“No, Shel. I… I promise,” Vicki said, enunciating her own words carefully.

Shelley’s hand moved to Vicki’s hair, and she began fiddling with the ends. “I—just—Ikindoflikeyou,” she blurted.

Vicki chuckled in disbelief as she swayed, trying to regain her balance. This couldn’t be happening, could it? Her friend – her very attractive friend – was lesbian or bisexual?

Vicki wondered if that was just the beer talking, but hoped it was more than that. She tried to steady her breathing as her heart hammered against her chest. She suddenly realized how wide Shelley’s eyes were, and how she seemed to be readying for a bad reaction as she tried to stay steady on her feet. Maybe, just

Vicki said soothingly, “Look, it’s okay. I like you too, Shel.”

She put her hands on Shelley’s shoulders to try and calm her. She could feel her friend’s shoulders shaking slightly. Shelley gasped, “Oh wow! You’re… a lesbian, Vick?”

“Bi, actually.”

Shelley’s tension vanished as she grinned drunkenly. “Oh, this is so awesome!”

She hugged Vicki, who smiled into Shelley’s shoulder as she returned the embrace. The words began spilling out of Shelley’s mouth. “Oh God, I was so terrified of telling you, because we’ve been friends for like forever and I was afraid you weren’t into girls like I was and you wouldn’t like me.”

“Hey. Shh, it’s okay.” Vicki rubbed her friend’s back, easing the tension out of Shelley as the other girl relaxed.

Shelley leaned back, and Vicki was never quite sure afterwards how it happened, but suddenly, both seemed drawn to each other and the two friends began kissing. Their hands soon started roaming, as well.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Just When Things Are Going Right by Rev Apoc

[ I want to thank Mouse from Mouse’s Musings for being gracious enough to host this story on Right Behind as well as providing the impetus and encouragement to start this AU story about Left Behind: The Kids.

I’d also like to thank VMink, who took time out of a busy schedule to read this and comment on it for me.

Finally, please note that while some canon elements are the same, I’ve chosen to introduce, omit, or change characters as need be to help make more realistic, likable versions of Judd Thompson and Vicki Byrne. ]


Judd Thompson wasn’t unusual, as teenagers went. Sixteen years old, played basketball at high school and partied after the games, win or lose; maybe smoked a joint between beers. He’d dated a couple of girls, but for the moment he was just playing the field.

Lately, though, it seemed like his dad and his mom were just constantly on his case about something or other. He didn’t clean his room well enough. He left his plates in the sink. He didn’t switch the outdoor light off on the way to his bedroom. He didn’t come along to church. He didn’t do this, he didn’t do that.

Thinking back, he realized it had been three days before The Event that he’d cut afternoon classes with his friend Jason, knowing Mr. Stewart wouldn’t mark him absent from History. Kind of helped that he was also the school’s basketball coach.

Judd had spent an hour killing time with Jason but still got home earlier than usual, so neither of his parents were home, but the mail had been delivered. He’d idly flipped through the pile of envelopes, dropping them one by one onto the kitchen table as he wondered if any were for him. Since he and his father had the same name, they sometimes got their mail crossed. He saw the “Citibank” return address on one of the envelopes, and felt around it, noticing the stiff part that meant a credit card had to be inside it.

Later, the only really good explanation he could come up with for what he was about to do was that he’d been frustrated, annoyed and just fed up. He’d had yet another round of fighting with his dad that morning about not attending church again, and then at school he found out he’d bombed the English quiz from the day before.

Not that it really excused what he did.

He went up to his bedroom, closed the door and sat on his bed, fiddling with the envelope. It was addressed to “Judd Thompson”, but Judd knew without a doubt that meant his father. Nobody gave teenagers credit cards.

Judd licked his lips, then ripped the envelope open and took out the contents. He noticed that there was a pre-approved card with a $5000 credit limit. All he had to do was activate the thing. He hesitantly plucked the card away from the form letter, and began picking off the sticky silly-putty-like stuff still stuck to the back of the shiny plastic.

If I could just get away from here for a while, he thought.

Suddenly, the card opened up a vista of possibilities. He and his friend Jason could go on a nice long trip, catch a few NBA games, maybe even pick up a few girls. He had a cousin down in Baltimore he might be able to crash at for a few nights.

Judd grabbed his cordless phone and began dialling the number on the back of “his” credit card. He told himself he’d just use it for a while, then cut the card up.

But not before he used it to have a little fun.


Vicki Byrne stormed out of her trailer, wondering when her mother would just get the point. She didn’t want to hear about her grades, about her dresses, about whatever. Her parents could God-bother her some other time too – preferably much later than now, as far as she was concerned.

She was fourteen, and like several other girls in her school, she liked to drink and smoke, and cut classes now and then. She didn’t think that was worth all the fuss, but her mother clearly had different ideas.

Vicki’s dad wasn’t as bad about nagging her, but she thought it was more because he didn’t have time for her anymore. He was seriously trying to hold down the latest job he’d managed to get, which meant he could be out on 12-hour shifts sometimes. He’d come home, shower briefly, try to eat a little bit of dinner at nine o’clock, then shuffle off to bed for more of the same starting at six in the morning.

It was almost like he wasn’t there these days even when his body was at the dinner table. But, mused Vicki, at least they’d laid off the drinking for a few weeks now. Maybe that was why her mom was being crabbier than usual; waitressing at the truck stop on the highway probably didn’t help a lot.

Her friend Shelley Brown, who lived in the trailer across the way and was sitting on the front stairs, eyed her up and down and said, “Lookin’ dressed to kill today, huh?”

Vicki knew she looked older than fourteen, and she’d soon gotten the knack of dressing like the older girls at her school did. She rolled her eyes and replied, “My mom was just raggin’ on me again about this stupid skirt. The way she tells it I should dress like a nun for the rest of my life.”

Shelley laughed. Vicki liked hearing that laugh. It wasn’t a nasty laugh like some of the richer kids had when they sneered at Vicki for being “trailer trash”, or a patronizing laugh like that jerk Daniel had when he was talking at her like she didn’t know anything about cars when he was bragging about his souped-up Camaro. It hadn’t helped that he’d been staring at her chest half the time.

Shelley was attractive, Vicki thought. Straight black hair, light blue eyes, lips that stood out so well with red lipstick and a body to match Vicki’s. The two girls had danced together at a couple of parties, but other than that, Vicki didn’t know if Shelley felt about her the way she felt about Shelley.

Vicki bit her thumbnail and tried to take her mind off the track it was running in. She said, “Hey, wanna get out of here for a bit and have a smoke down by the pond? I blew my science quiz today and you already know my mom was at me again about stuff.”

Shelley smiled. “Yeah. Gimme a sec, gonna run in and grab my purse, okay?” She stood up and dashed in her trailer, letting the screen door shut with a clack.

Soon, Shelley was back and the pair walked in the direction of the small forested pond behind the trailer park.

The two girls sat on the old bench facing the pond. Vicki looked up; the late-afternoon sky was a nice clear blue, though some of the sticky humidity that portended summer was evident. Shelley opened her purse and rummaged for the cigarette pack she’d taken from her mom’s stash.

Vicki grabbed her cigarette and Shelley’s lighter, not waiting for the other girl to light her up. As soon as the embers at the end began glowing, she inhaled deeply, then let the smoke trail out her nostrils as she breathed out. She already felt calmer, less stressed out. She tossed the lighter back at Shelley, who lit her own cigarette.

“Hey, Vicki?” Shelley said after a drag.

Vicki looked at her friend and at her concerned expression, she replied, “What? Do I have something on my face?” She gestured vaguely with her right hand, her left hand flicking the ashes off her cigarette in the direction of the pond.

“No. Just… you look like you’re close to biting someone’s head off. You didn’t even wait for me to light your smoke like I usually do.”

Vicki took another drag off her cigarette and sighed. “Yeah, I guess. It’s just… My mom and dad don’t even seem to know they’re just winding me up with all this do-better-this and stop-doing-that and it just never ends, you know? Man, I’m so glad you found out there’s gonna be a party this weekend, Shel.”

Shelley moved closer and put her hand out. Vicki clasped it in response, feeling the strength in her friend’s grip. Solid. Reassuring.

“It’ll be okay, Vicki. Look, if it gets too much, I’m sure you could stay over for a couple of nights. Mom’d be cool with it.”

Vicki smiled. “Thanks. Boy, I can’t wait for that party.”

Shelley grinned and released Vicki’s hand. She said, “Maybe we can find you a cute guy there.”

Vicki laughed. “What about you, huh?”

Shelley just smiled and took a drag off her cigarette.


“Boy, I can’t wait for the party at your place tonight, Jason,” said Judd as he heaved a sigh and threw the books he didn’t need into his locker. He stuffed his backpack with what he needed, and made a note to stop by the ATM on the way home.

It had been a piece of cake to get authorized for a cash withdrawal PIN. Judd figured if he had about a thousand bucks saved up, he could let Jason in on the plan and they’d sneak off on the upcoming spring break to see Drew in Baltimore.

Jason grinned and thumped Judd’s shoulder. “Me too. Hey, need a ride home?”

“Sure; I didn’t bring my car today.” Judd closed his locker, locked it up and the two went to Jason’s car. Inside the car, he said to Jason, “What’s the occasion anyway? We don’t have any intramural games right now and the football guys don’t have theirs until next week.”

Jason grinned cockily as he drove the car out of the school parking lot. “Kegger night. Dad’s already taken off for a week to somewhere with this lady he’s seeing and my brother Randy’s coming down with whatever you can fit into a pickup truck.”

Judd whistled. “Is he loaded or something?”

“He got a full ride at college, so all the money Dad sends is just gravy. I’m helping pay for some of it too ‘cause Dad left some spending money.”

“Nice. Hey, stop at that 7-11, wouldya?” asked Judd as he pointed to the store coming up the road.

There was an ATM in the store; not too many customers were inside and the clerk was engrossed in a newspaper. Judd withdrew the maximum daily limit, which was $400, and made sure nobody was paying attention as he stuffed all the bills into his backpack except for a twenty. He bought a couple of Cokes and gave one to Jason as he got back in the car.

“Feelin’ generous, are you?” joked Jason.

“Why not? Dad finally coughed up my allowance,” answered Judd easily.

Judd turned on the radio and the two boys listened to the music playing for the rest of the way home.

At Judd’s place, Jason said, “Come on over around seven or eight, huh? Things should be going pretty well by then.”

Judd answered with a thumbs-up before he got out of the car and went into his house, remembering to toss his empty Coke can in the recycle box. He made a beeline for his bedroom and quietly locked the door. He pulled out a shoebox hidden under several others at the back of his closet and stuffed the thick wad of bills in with the rest, which were now creatively stuffed in between his golf shoes. He figured there was a thousand dollars in there now. He decided to wait for one more withdrawal, then talk to Jason after the party was over.

After replacing the box, he reflected that he wasn’t going to play golf any time soon if he could help it. His dad seemed to have a fascination with the whole whacking-a-ball-around thing, but Judd couldn’t see the point to it. He made sure to unlock the door again before doing his homework.

Judd fiddled around with his math homework, not really puzzling out the answers so much as just staring at the questions. What on Earth, he thought, was he going to use freakin’ conic sections for?

Dinner was a welcome distraction as he ate his beef and veggies. Judd then grudgingly helped clear the table before escaping back up to his room to get changed for the party. Half an hour later, he was in his best jeans and a tight-fitting T-shirt. He grabbed just his house keys, deciding to leave his wallet behind. Jason was only a ten-minute walk away, anyway.